A CRITIQUE OF POPPER’S STRATEGY FOR THE GROWTH OF SCIENCE. A RESEARCH PROJECT MATERIAL ON PHILOSOPHY
1.0 TOWARDS ESTABLISHING THE BACKGROUND OF POPPERIAN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE.
1.1 CAN FACTS CONSTITUTE THE TERMINUS A QUO OF SCIENCE? (THE PROBLEM OF INDUCTION)
It is one of the fundamental canons of the empiricists, the positivists of all sorts and in fact the entire circle of the inductivists, that the ladder of science can only be climbed through the collection and assembling of our experiences. Put in another way, it is the case that scientific knowledge requires primarily and basically the collection of protocol sentences. The principle of induction can be expressed in the following statement:
If a large number of A’s have been observed under a wide variety of conditions, and if all those A’s without exceptions possess the property of B, then all A’s have the property B.1
Thus if various forms of metal expanded when heated at various occasions, one can conclude that all metals expand when heated. This is essentially an inductive process, which until the time of Popper was in the eyes of its exponents, a non-optional extra for empirical sciences. This principle of induction, the principle that scientific knowledge grows through the progressive movement from the particular statements (i.e. statements about facts) to the general (universal) statements, which are essentially the form in which, scientific theories appear, is considered of supreme importance for scientific discovery and advancement. Hence, Reichenbach makes bold to assert that the elimination of this principle from the foundational structure of science is tantamount to divesting science of its power to determine the truth or otherwise the falsity of its theories. Science will, therefore, be in want of a veritable means by which the veracity of her theories is established. There is no longer any intellectual difference between the scientific posits and the fanciful, arbitrary inventions of the poetic genius.2